Next week, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will host a spring hardware event in New York City to showcase its latest and greatest new devices, as well as unveil the Windows 10 Cloud edition of the company’s iconic operating system.
The interesting part, though, is not anticipation of a new device or expectancy of some revolutionary program rollout.
Rather, the focus is expected to heavily surround the Windows 10 Cloud OS and management’s intentions to shift significant attention to the education market.
CEO Satya Nadella will, apparently, be allocating a larger portion of the company’s resources to wage war against tech behemoth Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the classroom arena. Both Microsoft and Google each sport their own classroom services that offer teachers and students alike the opportunity to learn, work and collaborate using a variety of tools designed to increase efficiency and cultivate a productive environment.
However, despite having equally robust and functional Classroom products, MSFT has struggled to gain ground against GOOGL since the official release of Microsoft Classroom in April 2016. Comparatively, Google Classroom has been around since August 2014 and, for the most part, it has been very well-received across the country by professors and teachers as well as students ranging from elementary school-age up through universities and grad schools.
Why Google Has an Advantage in Classrooms
Many investors have wondered why MSFT would be willing to spend such time, money and resources to get its software in front of elementary school-age children. Well, last year, shortly after the debut of Microsoft Classroom, Fortune’s Barb Darrow answered that question, explaining:
Tech titans know that if they want to expand their customer bases, they’ve got to get ’em while they’re young. That’s why Google and Microsoft have targeted teachers and younger students with special editions of their bread-and-butter software packages.
The idea is if you learn to type on Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you’ll keep typing and working on one of those options for life. That’s the rationale behind the companies’ respective Google Classroom and Microsoft Classroom franchises.
With this in mind, the battle for dominance in classrooms across the country makes a lot more sense.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has been battling Microsoft in classrooms across America since the release of its Apple IIe desktop computer in the 1980’s, was in a solid position to maintain top market share with the iPad release in 2010. Almost immediately, the iPad became a nationwide hit with teachers and students alike, and by 2013, Apple devices accounted for nearly half of all shipments to classrooms, while MSFT devices only accounted for 29%.
And so the war waged on, as it had for more than three decades prior, with AAPL and Microsoft vying for the attention of America’s pupils in hopes of establishing a lifelong brand loyalty by putting their devices in classrooms across the country. Meanwhile, all along GOOGL had been laying the groundwork for making further inroads into educational institutions by marketing Google Apps for Education, which integrated with Google Drive and Gmail.